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Who’s still testing with PARCC and Smarter Balanced?

Shift away from testing consortia gained momentum in 2015-2016 school year
Another group of states in 2015-16 deployed their own Common Core-aligned assessments.
Another group of states in 2015-16 deployed their own Common Core-aligned assessments.

Who’s still testing with PARCC and Smarter Balanced?

Another group of states in 2015-16 deployed their own Common Core-aligned assessments, adding greater momentum to a national shift away from the PARCC and Smarter Balanced testing consortia.

Just seven states and the District of Columbia participated fully in PARCC this past school year, a 30 percent reduction from 24 in 2010, according to a new study from the Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction, and Learning (C-SAIL)—a federally funded organization that studies the impact state standards have on learning.

Massachusetts let students take PARCC or a state-created exam, and will introduce a hybrid in 2017. State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester said the new test will allow Massachusetts to incorporate strong elements of both exams without ceding testing control to PARCC, according to published reports. Louisiana also blended PARCC with a state exam.

Alabama and Arkansas chose to use the ACT Aspire test as a summative end-of-year assessment. Illinois recently announced that it would replace PARCC for high school students with the SAT, but keep the test for grades 3 through 8.

Thirteen states remain full participants in Smarter Balanced, with Michigan and New Hampshire using a hybrid. Originally, the consortium had 21 members.

“There are a lot of politics involved in testing,” says Morgan Polikoff, associate professor of education at the University of Southern California-Rossier and co-director of C-SAIL. “For states that are a bit wobbly on Common Core because of political pushback, getting rid of the assessments is a nice symbolic gesture that we still have control over what goes on in our state.” Technical glitches have further deterred states from Common Core testing, Polikoff adds.

The number of different tests makes it harder to compare the performance of students in different states—undermining the goal of the Common Core, Polikoff says. “It’s also a concern that these new one-off assessments may not be as good as the consortium tests, which a lot of time and money went into creating,” he adds.